Srinagar: The state government has completely failed to discharge its legal duty to ensure sale and distribution of drugs of standard quality, the J&K High Court was told in a report on Friday.
The report, filed by Advocate Altaf Haqani acting as Amicus Curiae in a public-interest litigation (PIL), was in response to the affidavit filed by government authorities in compliance with court order dated September 14, 2018.
On September 14, the High Court had directed the respondents (state government) to place on record particulars of officers who had approved drugs not of standard quality, as well as details of civil and criminal action taken against them.
Advocate Haqani pointed out in his report that the respondents had chosen to conceal from the court the relevant information of officers involved in this crime.
The details mentioned in the affidavit are completely evasive and misleading, Haqani said in his report, as it has not been disclosed what administrative action has been proposed/ taken against the manufacturers concerned.
Haqani’s report further stated that it has also not been disclosed why the response of the screening committee continues to be awaited. This is more so because the samples taken pertain to the period of first half of the year 2017. Haqani said in his report that in the absence of any penal action, manufacturers have continued to manufacture and distribute drugs declared to be of substandard quality by even the Appellate Laboratory.
“The pendency of action for inordinate period reflects casual approach in the matter adopted by the respondents, without appreciating the disastrous consequences the same is likely to entail in the patient health/ safety,” the report said.
Not only this, the report said, respondents had adopted the same casual approach in regard to samples declared not of standard quality during the year 2017-18 as supplied by JK Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd (JKMSCL). The report said that JKMSCL instead of ensuring purchase and supply of drugs from top pharmaceutical manufacturers/ companies, has resorted to tendering and thereby making purchase from the lowest tenderer, compromising on quality.
It was stated through the report that the office of Drug Controller appears to be under staffed, as against 15 sanctioned posts only four posts are filled.
The report mentions an “unholy alliance between licence holder, doctor and supplier/ manufacturer of drugs”. It states that the practice has not only led to prescription/ administration of unrelated drugs based on commercial interests, but has also encouraged unqualified persons in such clinics to act as doctors, pharmacists, or nursing orderlies.
The report further mentions that in terms of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, Retail Licence is required to be issued by the Drug Controller in favour of persons possessing requisite qualifications. On the contrary, “the general impression is that the licence holders have employed persons who are otherwise unqualified to dispense the drugs.”
The court has now directed the State Counsel to examine the report and file his response by next date of hearing.